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To-Do List: Arts and entertainment picks for Columbians in self-isolation (April 1-7)

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contagion.jpeg

Should you watch Contagion?

MUSIC

1 or 2 Performance Series

If you’re like me, you miss being able to see and interact with local performance artists — and supporting them in turn through your patronage. And while our days of social distancing are likely to continue for some time, One Columbia, Richland Library, SceneSC and Free Times want to help on both counts. Starting this week, we’ll partner to present 1 or 2, a new performance series, wherein we’ll host one or two artists (get it?) at the Free Times office, videoing their performance and sharing it online — giving you some fresh entertainment in these stale days, and allowing the artists we present a chance to earn a paycheck. Keep an eye on Free Times‘ website and social media to catch the first episode, featuring the smoothly globe-hopping folk stylings of THE Dubber, which is set to post later this week. JORDAN LAWRENCE

TV

Justified

Elmore Leonard’s incredible character-driven books often got 1kicked into the critically ignored “crime fiction” genre, so perhaps it’s fitting that Justified, a series based on a Leonard short story, never really got the praise it deserved. For six seasons, this brilliant series followed Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), one of the darkest heroes ever on TV, and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) one of the small screen’s most charismatic villains, in a cat-and-mouse chase through the tangled roots of Harlan, Kentucky. The show told a remarkably cohesive story, and its final scene is an all-time classic. All seasons are currently streaming on Hulu. VINCENT HARRIS

Music

Nine Inch Nails’ Ghost V and VI

Nine Inch Nails have issued a few records as free downloads across the last decade and change, but none were as well-timed as last week’s Ghost V: Together and Ghost VI: Locusts. The first of the two instrumental collections — reminiscent of members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack work, particularly the game-changing score to 2010’s The Social Network — is a welcome balm for COVID-19 anxiety. An elegant tapestry of patient, pondering piano and drawn-out tones and voices, it sets hopeful melodic snippets adrift in ominous vibes, forming a realistic zen space for those of us dealing with distress in isolation. Locusts uses a similar pallet, but ramps up the tension, offering solidarity for the moments when it all becomes too much. Find them both at store.nin.com. JORDAN LAWRENCE

Book

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

While local restaurants need all of the takeout money you can throw at them, if you’re cooking more during this stay-at-home period, check out Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Less of a cookbook than a reader-friendly love letter to the science and chemistry of the how and why of great cooking, Samin Nosrat’s infectious prose will get you excited about whipping up even the simple recipe you’ve made a hundred times before. KYLE PETERSEN

Film

Contagion

I’ve been wrestling with a question I’m sure some of you are wrestling with, too: Should I watch the 2011 film Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s richly nerve-wracking vivisection of a deadly outbreak? Is seeing it during the days of COVID-19 an opportunity I shouldn’t miss? Or is it just too much right now? Well, I watched it this weekend. And I’m glad I did. Yes, it was uncomfortable at times (the way the camera lingers on touched surfaces to illustrate the virus’ spread and the characters spouting concerns about not damaging the economy as the death toll mounts felt very real), but it was also hopeful (the disease in the movie is much more horrifying and deadly, and the government response is even more scattered and sluggish than ours is right now, but the world doesn’t end). It’s also an underrated directorial accomplishment for Soderbergh, a more effective use of the multiple-narratives-with-all-star-cast approach he used in the over-hyped Traffic. Contagion is available to rent via multiple services, and available to stream with a Cinemax subscription. JORDAN LAWRENCE

Music

Run the Jewels

Veterans of their respective rap scenes, Brooklyn’s El-P and Atlanta’s Killer Mike became the street-preaching odd couple hip-hop didn’t know it needed with their braggadocious 2013 debut LP as Run the Jewels. Over their two subsequent releases, the duo have barbed their impeccable flows with biting social commentary, urging listeners to “Kill Your Masters” on 2016’s Run the Jewels 3 — a fitting message for today’s political puppet show. Take a deep dive through all three LPs, then reward yourself with the two new tracks they’ve released in recent weeks, all in preparation for Run the Jewels 4, due later this year. CAM POWELL

TV

30 Rock

Sitcoms can really be a balm in times of stress, and that goes doubly for shows where the plot is almost incidental to the comedy. The whip-smart humor of NBC’s 30 Rock kind of flew under the radar for the improbable seven seasons it was on air, but its winking, self-aware irreverence and low tolerance for sacred cows rings all the truer today, a decade after it aired. It’s streaming in its entirety on Hulu and Amazon Prime. KYLE PETERSEN

Writing

Letters

I have a book of Marvin Gaye stamps, and I think it’s time to put them to good use. Why don’t you follow suit, and ask people to give you their snail mail addresses and write them a handwritten letter? Sounds like a pretty awesome use of the at-home time we’re suddenly overwhelmed with. When was the last time you got some mail that wasn’t a bill? It’s a pretty great feeling. PREACH JACOBS

Music

Richard Buckner’s Devotion + Doubt

There’s something comforting and intimate about Richard Buckner’s records, and it’s the kind of music that makes more intuitive sense the more time you spend alone. Put on Devotion + Doubt, his 1997 sophomore LP, for a taste of his twangy, Dwight Yoakam-meets-Elliott Smith vocal elegance and songs that have a coffee-and-cigarettes, long-lonesome-nights-contemplating-the cruelty-of worlds-both-interior-and-exterior. Real pandemic blues stuff. KYLE PETERSEN

Games

Jackbox TV

Long the tastemakers of the party game world, Jackbox’s suite of irreverent large group entertainment titles can be played with friends remotely across a variety of gaming systems and streaming TV devices. Apple TV and Nintendo Switch users can download Drawful 2, an absurdist take on Pictionary, for free for the next few weeks by visiting the company’s website. Set up a virtual hour over Zoom at the same time to add some booze and s#!t-talking to the mix for maximum enjoyment. CAM POWELL

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